Marikiti Market


Marikiti Market

***** Location: Nairobi, Kenya
***** Season: Topic
***** Category: Humanity


Wakulima Market (Farmers' Market),
usually abbreviated to Marikiti,
is situated on Haile Selassie Avenue, right next to Muthurwa Matatu Terminus and close to the Machakos Country Bus Station.

It is Nairobi's main wholesale market for fruit and vegetables -- these are delivered round the clock from all over the country, indeed even neighbouring countries. Before dawn, retail traders and the owners of small stalls around the city arrive in Marikiti to buy their provisions for the day and take them back so as to be able to sell from opening time. There is great competition for the freshest, the tastiest and the cheapest produce, and most of the small stallholders have developed a keen eye for what is best to buy.

There is a huge business of mikokoteni (plural of mkokoteni, a hand cart) around Wakulima Market, as most stall holders do not possess a vehicle, yet regularly buy quite substantial volumes and weights. The hand carts are driven by young men (usually just one, but sometimes several if the weight is great) and produce is delivered all over the city, often many kilometres away. Mikokoteni, though walked by their operators, are regarded as part of the road traffic of Nairobi, and both car and matatu drivers will do their best to overtake them without causing harm or injury.

The pavements around Marikiti are occupied by sellers of tiny quantities of fruit and vegetables to the passing pedestrians, who thus also benefit from the attractive prices of the wholesale market.

Isabelle Prondzynski


. Mkokoteni Haiku .

Reference : wikimapia.org, Marikiti wholesale market MAP


Busy mkokoteni
The weight of the load was so heavy that he had to spend most energy on pushing down the bar in front of him, as well as pulling the load itself.

Following a mkokoteni on Jogoo Road

© PHOTOS : Isabelle Prondzynski, FLICKR

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


Irish potatoes
peeping from an overstuffed sack --
a sweating cart man

It is one of the specialities of wholesale fruit and vegetable markets in Kenya to present the produce, particularly potatoes, in overstuffed sacks. Where the sack as such ends, more potatoes are added to form a pile, and the whole is then closed by a network of sisal string, so that the customer can see the contents without having to cut open the bag. This arrangement also shows the generosity of the producer -- filling as much as possible into the sack, to add value.

In Kenya, we have two basic types of potatoes --
Irish potatoes (Swahili : viazi, called potatoes in Europe), and
sweet potatoes (Kikuyu : ngwacî).
Both are popular in parts of the country and belong to Kenya's staple foods.

Marikiti market --
the porter ahead of me
smelling of onions

avocados and pawpaws --
Marikiti market gate

main gate--
mikokoteni and trucks compete
for entry and exit

my shoe slides
on a shell of a water melon--
Wakulima Market

sweltering noon--
tired cart men take a nap
in their mikokoteni

a hurrying woman
slides on an orange peel and falls--
milling crowds

loaded lorries
queue to offload farm produce--
falling dry and green fronds

Patrick Wafula, July 2010


I respect the energetic men in this market whose work is to carry sacks and other luggage for short distances. They use nothing but their back to carry the heavy sacks to a point where they have to walk while their back is bended almost at 90 degrees! You would think that the sacks have legs because you cannot see them and they cannot see what is in front of them, all they can manage is to whistle for you to give them way.

under potato sacks--
Marikiti Market

Caleb Mutua

Related words

***** Pawpaw (Asimina) almost like a kind of papaya

***** . Mkokoteni hand cart .


1 comment:

snowbird said...

Hi, Gabi, Isn't it great to see a cultural event like the farmer's market in every country of the world and explore the many ways it's presented. It's funny but one of the farmers is on Facebook! So the world is changing, yet things like this linger on... Thanks Be To GOD... sort of gives a continuity to life. Thanks for your link. Merrill